image_7Amazon has quietly launched the ability for customers to write reviews for local restaurants, spas and activities, putting it squarely in competition with other online services, like Yelp, Angie’s List or Google’s Zagat.

The reviews capability rolled out last month, part of an iPhone app update for Amazon Local, which sells daily deals, similar to Groupon. According to the iOS app logs, the primarily purpose of the update, which went live on May 7, was to “support reading and writing customer reviews of some deal locations.”

This provides additional evidence that Amazon is close to launching a local marketplace, which would help people find babysitters, handymen or contractors. Reuters broke that news yesterday, but it wasn’t clear at the time that some of the features had already launched.

According to one source, the service is expected to launch officially by the end of this year, although that could be moved up.

The reviews are just what you’d expect.

image_4A deal for Lost Lake Cafe in Seattle, offering $12 for $24 off a meal, got three stars from a customer, who wrote: “New twists on old diner classics doesn’t work,” and that the service was slow and the sloppy Joe average.

A review for a different restaurant missed the point and instead of writing about the restaurant, complained about the couponing service. The reviewer wrote that at one location things went smoothly, but redeeming the offer at the second location led to a long wait and a clerk having to call his boss.

Coincidentally, Groupon does the same thing in its iPhone app through a partnership with Yelp.

Yelp and Google are probably not worried — yet. Over the past month, Amazon has gathered only a handful of reviews for businesses related to the dozen-or-so offers that were live today, so it still has a long ways to go.

But Amazon’s entrance into the space should be taken seriously, especially as customers have grown to trust the company as one of the major sources of reviews for physical products, ranging from cameras or a pair of jeans.

Amazon will have to start over if it wants to be the go-to source for local services, like contractors or restaurants, but clearly it has begun to put the pieces together. In addition to gathering the reviews, it has also been testing other services for awhile now, like helping you mount a flat screen TV in your home after buying one online.

Online review companies, like Angie’s List and Yelp, remained fairly unfazed by Amazon’s threat. In trading today, Yelp’s stock remained fairly stable, increasing by 77 cents, or 1.2 percent, and Angie’s List jumped 90 cents, or 7.8 percent, to $12.39 a share. Amazon was essentially flat today, up $2.80, to $335.20 a share.

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  • Review Monitoring

    Very cool and with success of Amazon product reviews they do have a shot at becoming a great source for local reviews. Can’t wait to see them pop up next to Yelp in Google.

  • RubyShelleykip

    My Uncle
    Riley got an almost new red GMC Canyon just by some parttime working online
    with a laptop. visit their website F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

  • John

    “According to one source, the service is expected to launch officially by the end of this year, although that could be moved up.” Writing this sentence means that you’ve never worked at a very large company and know nothing about them.

    • narg

      All hail John, who “knows all”. LOL. Get a life.

  • narg

    Yelp, or as most refer to it: “Bitch Central” is not that great. So Yahoo doesn’t have a lot of work ahead if they wish to do better. Though Yahoo doesn’t strike me as a good option either.

  • jbezos

    Next year, we’ll be reading about how Amazon is blocking access to local business reviews unless the local business pays a % of their sales to be listed…

    • Rick S

      Hahahahahaha best laugh of the day thanks!

  • Burrito Grande

    “A review for a different restaurant missed the point and instead of writing about the restaurant, complained about the couponing service.”

    It is interesting to make the assertion that the reviewer “missed the point” – if you search on Yelp you’ll see that perhaps thousands of reviews of car repair places, nail salons, etc., solely mention the customer’s experience with the coupon deal offered.

    I’ve felt that since Groupon came into being thousands of places that no one would have ever reviewed in the first place are now being reviewed for the first time.

    I’m glad that Amazon is doing this – Yelp is a limited source of information, and if Amazon is creative this could really help consumers. It would also be of huge value to search.

    Yelp also hasn’t seemed to have updated their website since about 2007 – and their mobile app has always been very out of date.

  • Local

    Interestingly, the other reuters article said that the amazon local deals business was not involved in the local services marketiplace…

  • Robbin Block

    It’s going to be a behavioral challenge to get the installed base of Yelp reviewers to switch to or add another platform. It’s like trying to launch another social networking site — how do you get Facebookers to move? People only have so much bandwidth. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but it may be a slow process, which could eventually kill Amazon as a local review site. Amazon already owns the product review niche; perhaps they need to find a tighter niche than just local.

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